Time 2 Go Queenstown Scenic Highlights

From the moment you wake up until the moment the sun slips behind the mountains, Queenstown delivers full strength alpine scenery.

Your camera is going to be exhausted by the end of this holiday.


Every visitor to Queenstown should hike or ride to somewhere high. From the top of almost any hill, magnificent views await.

- Climb Queenstown Hill or Ben Lomond for fantastic views of Queenstown and beyond
- Ride the Skyline Gondola for the classic picture postcard shot across Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown to The Remarkables mountain range
- When skiing or boarding, take a breather to enjoy the huge views from the top of the lift
- Ride a horse into the high country on a guided trek
- If you have the skill, rock or mountain climbing will take you to amazing heights


The dramatic landscape of high peaks, hanging valleys and clear water is gentle, quiet and stunningly beautiful. Leave the town and take to the hills and trails. You can pick up maps and trail information from any information centre.

- The national parks of Fiordland and Mount Aspiring are within easy reach. Both parks offer a range of half or full day walks
- Journey through primordial forests, dramatic valleys and vast tussock fields on multi-day walks
- Local guides can explain the geography and geology as you hike, or you can hike independently


Queenstown will challenge you to step outside your comfort zone.

- Hurtle through the air attached to a skydive instructor, hang glider, parapente or bungy
- Go jet boating, rafting or canyon swinging
- Burn off some energy ice skating, skiing or snowboarding
- Explore the trails by foot, mountain bike or horseback
- Take a 4WD trip into the back country
- Try gold panning, kayaking, sailing or canyoning


Queenstown is part of the Central Otago region, the fastest growing wine district in the country. The local wines frequently win awards.

- Book a wine tour or hire a car and visit the vineyards in Gibbston Valley, Queenstown's main wine producing area
- Gibbston Valley Wines, Queenstown's first commercial vineyard, is known for seriously good lunches and wine tasting. You can also tour their wine cave and cheese factory


Soak up the beautiful alpine landscape while you pursue your favourite form of relaxation.

- Enjoy a round of golf. Queenstown has four courses, including world famous Millbrook
- Book yourself a day of luxury and pampering at a day spa
- Spend a morning shopping for new clothes in Queenstown's stylish retail precinct
- Catch a rainbow in Lake Wakatipu. You can fish for rainbow trout, brown trout and quinnat salmon all year round. Licenses can be purchased in the town and guides can lead you to the best fishing spots

If you've see the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you're already familiar with some of Queenstown's most picturesque places. Rugged mountains, lush beech forests, golden hill country and crystal clear waterways made Queenstown, Glenorchy and Arrowtown perfect for many Middle-earth locations. Fans will recognise the Ford of Bruinen, Dimrill Dale, Ithilien, Isengard, Lothlorien, Amon Hen and the Pillars of the Kings.

Several operators conduct specialised tours of Lord of the Rings filming sites. These tours are increasingly popular with LOTR fans; they're also great for those who just want to see the magnificent back country.

Less than half an hour from Queenstown, Arrowtown is home to the superb Lakes District Museum, often described as one of New Zealand's best small museums. Much of Arrowtown's history is very much alive and in daily use. Wander the banks of the Arrow River and discover life as it was for the Chinese gold miners - their humble village can still be seen tucked into the riverbank.

The main street, Buckingham Street, is testament to the town's determination to preserve its illustrious past. Historic buildings house a stylish shopping and dining precinct. Pick up a directory of historic buildings from the museum and spend an afternoon exploring Arrowtown's unique history. In April and May, the town's trees are a magnificent sight - one of the best autumn displays in the country.

Bordered by a World Heritage area, the frontier village of Glenorchy at the northern tip of Lake Wakatipu is completely surrounded by mountains, glacier fed rivers and beech forest. The road to Glenorchy promises breathtaking views of Lake Wakatipu and glacial geological formations, including sheer mountain sides and hanging valleys. When you arrive in Glenorchy, you'll quickly realise that this settlement has little in common with Queenstown. It's small and folksy with not a designer shop in sight. Sitting at the edge of the Dart River delta, the town is dwarfed by the most extraordinary alpine scenery.

20 kilometres further on is Paradise, a tiny farming settlement. Some say this place was named for its stunning scenery; others argue that it's all to do with the paradise ducks that live in the area. Either way, Paradise deserves your attention - especially if you're a Lord of the Rings fan.

From the 1860s until quite recently, Skippers Canyon was the centre of gold mining activity in the Queenstown region. Historic sites still exist today, so it's easy to imagine the harsh life of a gold digger. A number of original gold mining workings are being progressively restored.

Hand carved out of solid rock, the Skippers Road is an adventure in itself. Pause to take in the stunning views - looking down is likely to make your toes tingle. There are several adventure operators making good use of the road and the canyon. Depending on your appetite for thrills, you can take a ride on the flying fox, go white water rafting or get a vertical view of the canyon attached to a bungy. Less terrifying options include blasting along the Shotover River in a jet boat, walking across a historic pipeline or a visit to Winky's Museum.

Shaped like a lightning bolt, Lake Wakatipu is the third largest lake in New Zealand. The Dart River flows into its northern end; the Kawarau River, beginning near Queenstown, handles its outflow.

The lake occupies a single, glacier-carved trench and is bordered on all sides by tall mountains, the highest of which is Mount Earnslaw (2819 metres). Settlements around the lake shore include Queenstown and the villages of Kingston, Glenorchy and Kinloch.

Because of its unusual shape, Lake Wakatipu has a 'tide' (more correctly, an unusually large seiche or "standing wave"), which causes the water to rise and fall about 10 centimetres every 25 minutes or so. Maori legend links this phenomenon to the heartbeat of a huge monster named Matau, who is said to be slumbering at the bottom of the lake.

The T.S.S. Earnslaw cruises the lake every day. Complete with a bright red, 12 metre funnel, white hull and kauri timber decks, this vintage paddlesteamer is a New Zealand icon.

Lake Wakatipu offers year-round trout fishing - the mouths of the Greenstone and Lochy Rivers are particularly rewarding. In summer, the lake's beaches are popular for swimming.

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